This month’s Tinker Crate was a timely exploration of earthquakes and the engineering efforts to minimize their damage. Tinker Crate is a subscription box that inspires kids to learn about science, engineering, and technology, all while having lots of fun. Each month, the box explores a field of study within a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) discipline. Kids practice their problem solving skills and learn how to engage in both structured and open-ended exploration and investigation.
This month’s box follows the tried and true Tinker format of building a very cool machine, and then using it to demonstrate and test physics concepts.
Everything that arrives together in a single Tinker Crate – the supplies, a fold-out instruction sheet, and the Tinker Zine. In addition to the cool stuff found in the Tinker Zine, most crates have a secondary project that builds on the primary project, extending the exploration and focusing in on the science principles demonstrated by the main project.
The kit includes all the materials needed to construct the main project. Sometimes you need to provide some simple items from home for the second project or the additional explorations suggested in the Tinker Zine.
The instructions and other project info are printed on a faux blueprint fold-out sheet. Along with materials and instructions, you get some handy pointers and a troubleshooting guide. The sheet tells you everything that came in the box, some tips, and help if you can’t get it to work. This is a well-designed and tested box — we’ve never had a project with a fatal design flaw or any frustrating, unresolved engineering issues. Plus, there is help available if needed!
The instructions are clear and easy to follow and include both visuals and text, with lots of tips and checkpoints to make sure you’ve done everything correctly as you go. You aren’t expected to be an expert or know all the principles behind the project coming into it — the instructions are well thought out and anticipate areas where a novice might go astray. We can tell from the exquisite detail and thoughtfulness of the instructions that the projects and designed and tested, with lessons from testing and re-testing make their way into the instructions.
The main project is always a great hands-on activity and a demonstration of the scientific principles featured in the box, but the Tinker Zine is where the lessons really take shape!
This issue of the Tinker Zine looked at both the history and the science of earthquakes. It explains the scientific principles behind the phenomena, and it discusses the various approaches taken by people to minimize the damage caused by the movement of the earth.
Our daughter loves to read the magazine first. It is super-engaging and does superb job of balancing a fun and informal presentation style with technically accurate and detailed information. We love the way it uses actual, but well-explained scientific terminology to describe concepts — it expands the children’s knowledge and vocabulary rather than dumbing down the material.
the Zine goes into the science behind the project, and lets you gather data through experiments. There is a short summary after each experiments to explain why or how you end up with that outcome. This Zine had a design challenge for our Tinkerers — the goal was to build a tall structure that could withstand 30 seconds of shaking on the shake table.
The shake table project was elegantly designed — the construction was relatively simple for a seemingly complex build. The cardboard used for the frame of the table was pre-marked, and the holes and cut outs were pre-cut/pre-scored, making placement of everything easy.
The only engineering issues we’ve ever encountered with Tinker Crate builds has been the effectiveness of double-sided tape. The designers, however, have always had a method to compensate for this — here the motor was attached with zip-ties, with the tape primarily serving as a spacer.
The construction of the tower was very kid-friendly — the pipe cleaners and foam balls didn’t require any special tools or adhesive, the only challenge being resisting the urge to twist the pipe cleaners into crazy shapes.
Once constructed, the tower was actually strong enough to hold a pair of giant washers!
Everything’s ready for testing! This project was a whole lot of fun. Our daughter enjoyed building the tower and testing its durability on the table, but the kids played with the table for quite some time afterward, using it to topple various builds cobbled together from assorted toys around the house.
We really love Tinker Crate, because the projects are extremely well designed, with a comprehensive and engaging STEM-grounded lesson built around the project in each box. The Tinker Zine is really something special — it transforms the fun project into a whole learning module and does a superb job of fleshing out the concepts and turning exploration and trivia into real knowledge. It is a great box for tweens, but the projects are interesting enough that mom or dad will have fun helping younger kids tackle the projects, too!
The Description: Tinker Crate help kids gain crucial STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills through hands-on activities that are also seriously fun. Every crate includes all the materials and inspiration for a super-cool project. Ages 9 to 14+
The Price: $19.95 per month
The Categories:Kids Craft & Activities Subscription Boxes, Kids Educational & Learning Subscription Boxes,Subscription Boxes for Kids,Subscription Boxes for Teens & Tweens. Kiwi Crate Family, STEM Subscription Boxes, Subscription Boxes for Dads, Subscription Boxes for Teen Girls, Subscription Boxes for Teenage Boys.
The Reviews: See all our Tinker Crate Reviews.